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Blue skies over Beijing.

Beijing Travel Blog

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Beautiful.
News flash: Today at approximately 11:00am -- mere minutes after Steve had purchased a new rain jacket at Columbia, and Charlene and Lisa had purchased umbrellas -- the rain ceased in Beijing. At 2:25pm, the clouds broke and actual blue skies were reported across the city. Happy travelers admired the cumulus and danced with their nearly forgotten shadows,  deciding that maybe Beijing doesn't completely suck after all.

Up early to rainy skies. We dawdled all morning, not relishing the idea of getting wet, but needing to atone for yesterday's Big Day of Rest. We were finally out the door just before 9.
Steve admires his new rain jacket.
Someday, maybe we will learn about rush hour and the difficulty of finding a cab at that hour!  We waited in line at the cab stand and watched cab after cab (on their way to the cab stand) being hailed just up the street. Some people just can't follow the rules.

It was cold. I had to go back up to the apartment to get more clothes and switch cameras -- didn't want the good one getting waterlogged.

Then we tried a new tactic -- waiting in front of our apartment and hoping for a stray cab. No luck.

It was cold. The rain was really coming down. Steve doesn't have a rain jacket was getting drenched. Oops, looks like this camera doesn't have a memory card.

So we went to the Carrefour mall near our apartment for memory card, jacket, and umbrellas.
In the "foreign people" line for train tickets.
All items must be purchased in their respective areas -- you can't group your purchases at one cash register. Finally, just before 11:00 we were on our way! We exited the store and found the rain had stopped. Of course.

No problem getting a cab as rush hour was over.  Our first stop was the train station to purchase tickets to Xian, where the terracotta soldiers live. It took us some time to find the special "ticket sales for foreign people" line, but we were able to secure sleepers on the overnight train to and from Xian, leaving on Wednesday. Whew, nice to have that settled!

Next we wanted to check out Friendship Store, a Beijing department store we had read about in Fodor's. The cab drivers all said NO, NO, and one pointed across the street and indicated we should take the pedestrian overpass.
Steve slurps noodles -- Japanese style -- for lunch.
We figured the store was too close to drive to and set off to find it on foot. After two blocks, I could really feel my cold and wanted to take a nap right there. So we went into the nearest mall and had a Japanese lunch. (We have eaten more Japanese food than Chinese food here in Beijing!). I had a veggie stir fry that was served with small side bowls of pickles, rice, custard, and orange slices. It was excellent and super cheap. Steve had a noodle soup, with the same side dishes, and Lisa had tofu/noodle soup. Hers wasn't served with side dishes (which everyone knows is the best part of every meal) but she handled it pretty well.

OK, now we must check some sights off our list. We grabbed a cab to Lama Temple (of course the driver dropped us in some alley opposite the entrance gate).
Painting at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple is an actual functioning Buddhist temple, with multiple ornate halls filled with Buddhas -- including one that is 85-feet tall and carved from a single piece of sandalwood. (I took many photos of the exteriors, but photography was prohibited inside. Some monks -- very photogenic ones, I might add -- were tending the rooms to make sure we all obeyed the rules.) This place was compact and had many benches -- Steve was very, very happy!  And it was here that the sun made its appearance -- what a mood changer! I kept taking pictures of the sky, regretting that I didn't have my good camera with me.

From there we wanted to walk through a hutong (one of the ancient neighborhoods). Not sure where we were, but it wasn't very nice at all -- maybe they have some cleaner versions elsewhere for us to check out? When we got near our destination -- Confucious Temple -- the neighborhood improved dramatically.
What HAPPENED to this tree?
The tree-lined street was clean and gleaming in the sun, and everything looked fresh and green. (The frequent and loud phlegm ejections from the men around us reminded us that we were indeed, still in Beijing.).

Many of the buildings at Confucious Temple were closed, but I loved this place. We strolled the grounds, admiring 700-year old Cyprus trees, lilacs, and -- of course -- the blue sky. One Cyprus has a crazy mess of gnarly knotted protrusions all the way up its trunk -- we just could not figure it out. (Look at the photos and tell me if you know what happened to this tree!) I bought a deck of "Old Beijing" playing cards from the kitschy souvenir shop.

It has been three days (!) since our last foot massage (and we don't want Lisa to miss out!), so we headed over to Ya Show Clothing market, the site of our first $4 foot massage.
It's all blue skies and lilacs at Confucius Temple.
The place was packed, but Lily Nails found three seats for us. I enjoyed a full pedicure complete with 30-minutes massage and paraffin treatment. Lisa had a foot massage and "exfoliation" and Steve had a 60-minute foot massage. We all topped this off with 30-minutes upper body massages -- all for under $50!

We were getting hungry at this point, so we sat outside and studied our guidebooks for a good option. We want Sichuan-style Chinese food -- something spicy! We ended up at Xiheyaju and were very happy with our choice -- it was excellent! Delicious food, wonderful atmosphere -- I will do a review soon. 

We strolled around the neighborhood, looking for a convenience store where we could purchase some water. We ended up in a fantastic little grocery store that had inexpensive liquors, wines, and many English-labeled food items.
Steve cracks up at the grocery store.
(There are many embassies in the area, hence the international brands).  They even had "Mexican Tortillas Made by Real mexicans" which caused caused Steve to nearly split a gut laughing. It was hilarious, but I think you had to be there.  We scored a bottle of Bailey's and enough water to last at least two days. 

I still have a cold but all that sunshine really put me in a good mood today. Beijing looks much better in blue!
sandra-kids says:
How are you feeling today?
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
cmgervais says:
Yes, Xiheyaju was in both Fodor's and Insight Guides ... good place!
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
portia says:
Hey! Blue skies! very rare in Beijing I think, but you have photos to prove it does exist. Glad you found and liked Xiheyaju restaurant, was it in your book too?
Posted on: Apr 21, 2008
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Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Steve admires his new rain jacket.
Steve admires his new rain jacket.
In the foreign people line for t…
In the "foreign people" line for …
Steve slurps noodles -- Japanese s…
Steve slurps noodles -- Japanese …
Painting at Lama Temple.
Painting at Lama Temple.
What HAPPENED to this tree?
What HAPPENED to this tree?
Its all blue skies and lilacs at …
It's all blue skies and lilacs at…
Steve cracks up at the grocery sto…
Steve cracks up at the grocery st…
Coat shopping at Columbia.
Coat shopping at Columbia.
Roasted gingko nuts. They were goo…
Roasted gingko nuts. They were go…
Me and Lisa with our Japanese food…
Me and Lisa with our Japanese foo…
Lisa buys tickets at Lama Temple.
Lisa buys tickets at Lama Temple.
Lisa at Lama Temple.
Lisa at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lisa and me at Lama Temple.
Lisa and me at Lama Temple.
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
A scary turtle-lion-thing at Lama …
A scary turtle-lion-thing at Lama…
Turtle-lion at Lama Temple.
Turtle-lion at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple roof lines.
Lama Temple roof lines.
Lama Temple being repainted.
Lama Temple being repainted.
Painting at Lama Temple.
Painting at Lama Temple.
Me photographing a bell at Lama Te…
Me photographing a bell at Lama T…
Inscription on a very old bell at …
Inscription on a very old bell at…
A very old bell at Lama Temple.
A very old bell at Lama Temple.
Steve is happy, happy, happy on hi…
Steve is happy, happy, happy on h…
Blue skies peaks out at Lama Templ…
Blue skies peaks out at Lama Temp…
Lama Temple skyline.
Lama Temple skyline.
Me at Lama Temple.
Me at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple (illegal indoor shot b…
Lama Temple (illegal indoor shot …
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Look! Blue!
Look! Blue!
Blue sky and sunshine at Lama Temp…
Blue sky and sunshine at Lama Tem…
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Cute tot at Lama Temple.
Cute tot at Lama Temple.
Oh so tired. Man at Lama Temple.
Oh so tired. Man at Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Lama Temple.
Incense wafts through the Lama Tem…
Incense wafts through the Lama Te…
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
Burning incense at Lama Temple.
Mmmmm!
Mmmmm!
Hmm, that looks good!
Hmm, that looks good!
Hutong alleyway.
Hutong alleyway.
Hutong neighborhood.
Hutong neighborhood.
Lisa models the tourist look so …
Lisa models the "tourist look" so…
The street near Confucius Temple.
The street near Confucius Temple.
The street near Confucius Temple
The street near Confucius Temple
Man making a log cabin?
Man making a log cabin?
Gate at Confucius Temple.
Gate at Confucius Temple.
Gate at Confucius Temple.
Gate at Confucius Temple.
People with Mental Problems not we…
People with Mental Problems not w…
Confucius statue.
Confucius statue.
Confucius Temple.
Confucius Temple.
Confucius Temple.
Confucius Temple.
Sun dial and Steve. Confucius Temp…
Sun dial and Steve. Confucius Tem…
Confucius.
Confucius.
Lilacs at Confucius Temple.
Lilacs at Confucius Temple.
Lilacs at Confucius Temple.
Lilacs at Confucius Temple.
700-year-old tree at Confucius Tem…
700-year-old tree at Confucius Te…
Tangled mess of a tree at Confuciu…
Tangled mess of a tree at Confuci…
Steve and Lisa at Confucius Temple.
Steve and Lisa at Confucius Temple.
Mmmm, smells good.
Mmmm, smells good.
Another sky photo. Confucius Templ…
Another sky photo. Confucius Temp…
Confucius says, check your email.
Confucius says, check your email.
Prayers tablets at Confucius Templ…
Prayers tablets at Confucius Temp…
Confucius Temple.
Confucius Temple.
Confucius statue.
Confucius statue.
Close up of the gnarly, knotted tr…
Close up of the gnarly, knotted t…
Waiting for our pedicures.
Waiting for our pedicures.
Lisa (who is very ticklish) gets a…
Lisa (who is very ticklish) gets …
Pedicure at Ya Show Market.
Pedicure at Ya Show Market.
My leg is dipped in hot wax then e…
My leg is dipped in hot wax then …
I paid money to have hot wax poure…
I paid money to have hot wax pour…
Cool lighting at Xihayaju restaura…
Cool lighting at Xihayaju restaur…
Xihayaju restaurant.
Xihayaju restaurant.
Late night grocery run.
Late night grocery run.
Real tortillas by by real Mexicans…
Real tortillas by by real Mexican…
Cant stop laughing!
Can't stop laughing!
Beijing
photo by: Deats